This experimental film ("Venom and Eternity") by Isidore Isou constitutes the Letterist manifesto of film. Rejecting film conventions by 'chiseling' away at them, Isou introduced several new concepts, including discrepancy cinema where the sound track has nothing to do with the visual track. In addition, the celluloid itself was attacked with destructive techniques such as scratches and washing it in bleach. Causing a scandal at the 1951 Cannes Film Festival, this film was later introduced in the United States where it influenced avant-garde film makers such as Stan Brakhage.
Jean Isidore Isou (born I. Goldstein in 1925 in Botosani, Romania) was a writer with many published works including short stories, novels, poetry and essays. He was also a founder of the lettrist movement. Isou wrote, directed, photographed, composed the music for, and acted in the film. In the film, which Isou refers to as a "revolt against cinema," he attempts to discuss what was wrong with the cinema and then goes on to show examples of what he thinks the cinema should consist of. Stan Brakhage, who viewed this film many, many times and used it in his classroom, describes VENOM as "an extremely formal work, an extremely fine, balanced work." Whether or not this film represents artistic expression will have to be the individual decision of each viewer. In the words of Jean Cocteau, "Is VENOM a springboard or is it a void? In fifty years we'll know the answer. After all, remember how Wagner was retrieved. Today, no one objects to his outbursts. The day will come, perhaps, when Isou's style will be the fashion. Who can tell?"When VENOM AND ETERNITY was first shown at the Cannes Film Festival it caused a riot and firehoses had to be brought in. The film has its American premiere at Frank Stauffacher's Art in Cinema at the San Francisco Art Museum and again caused a disturbance and a stomp-out. Brakhage and several other artists including Robert Duncan were at the premiere and were outraged to learn that a Roman Catholic priest had been brought in to warn the audience of French decadence. According to Isou, "A film alone cannot assay the value of a system which embraces thousands of possibilities. In this work, I was more excited about the schism of image than about satisfying the demands of convention."
Reviewer:death pact intl. -
August 21, 2008 Subject:
a true subversive classic
I downloaded the mp4 version and it's pretty good quality, the subtitles are a bit easier to read than the version on ubuweb though sometimes they can be a strain on the eye. Venom and Eternity is a beautifully nihilistic film, a total attack on mainstream cinema and bourgeois culture in general.
Everyone should watch this.